Course you’re not the only one buying worlds! Why, plenty of fancy, big-name people buy worlds! We’re all looking for a new one, after all! Why, look here, it’s the incorrigible Anne Clare, the Neat-O Naptime Author.
Yes, kid. Neat-O.
Get away from me, kid. You bother me.
Well, enough from me. Read the words of another satisfied customer who buys worlds! Or maybe one specific world. One that’s… slightly used. I’ll let Anne take it away.
Hey buddy, you look lost. What outfit are you with—you one of the new guys from the 36th?
Ah. Oh no. He got you too, huh?
Well, welcome. Settle in. Yeah, I know, it’s muddy. You’ll get used to it.
Want a smoke? Ok, ok. Sheesh, settle down. I didn’t before I got here, either. But after a while…well, they taste better than most of the stuff in the rations. Do you mind if I…? Thanks.
So. Was it the Carnie?
Yep. I figured. That’s how I got here too. Thought I was being smart—ha!
Hey, you know how it was. Compared to all the other booths, his looked pretty tame, didn’t it? All done up in black and white and gray. None of the big stuffed animals or inflatable hammers or anything. Just that sign, “Wonders of the Past.”
He wasn’t pushy, either. Not like the other guys—the loudmouth at that “horrors” booth, and that one selling “new earths.” Gimme a break. All that glitz, and the lights, and those dire warnings. You’d better not buy! You can’t handle it! They had all the suckers begging for a chance to fork over their money, to prove themselves.
No, the Carnie wasn’t flashy. Didn’t even have the tall hat. Just that fly-away hair. You know, I thought he kinda looked like Doc Brown, from those movies? Guess it fits.
Anyway, he offered me a deal. At first I wasn’t gonna listen—if someone offers a deal, you know it’s a scam, right? Told him so, too.
“Sure, sure,” he says, “But you were looking at those new worlds, weren’t you? C’mon, I saw you looking.”
Well, sure I looked. I mean, who hasn’t thought about how great it’d be to build their own world? I’ve got plenty of ideas… but I wasn’t gonna pay the prices they were asking.
“That’s why I’m here,” he says. “See, I’ve got worlds too, but my prices are half what that guy charges.”
Of course I asked about the catch. He tells me that his worlds aren’t new. They’ve been used before, so they’re better.
I laughed in his face. What good’s an old world?
He says, “Predictability.” He goes on and on about how the world’s already been used, so you know what’s there. No surprises, you control what you’re getting into. The new worlds, the blank ones? Too unpredictable. Too much commitment. Could be dangerous, even.
“No, son, slightly used is the way to go. You can still make your mark, but at half the cost!”
Idiot that I was, I was listening. He saw he almost had me. Offered me a free look.
“What kind you want? Ancient? Renaissance? Regency?”
I asked if I could try something in the ‘40s.
Sure, he says. Showed me his selection, asked me for location. Well, I knew better than to go for France, or Hawaii, or up by Russia.
“Italy,” I said. Should be some action, but nothing too wild.
I suppose you know the rest, seeing as you’re here too. I took the free pass, and went through that little door in the back. Thought I’d just take a peek.
Ha! Just a peek. You wanna know how long I’ve been on this beach, with Nazi’s firing down on me, buddy? Going on five months. FIVE.
The brass keep telling us we’re getting off, we’ll break through or the boys down south’ll break through.
I guess we will. I know we won the war after all, but I don’t think I ever read about Anzio. Or maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention…
Why haven’t I gone back? Well…I suppose I could’ve, but now that I’m here I think…I think I gotta see it through. Some of the stuff these guys have gone through…
Aw, shoot hear that? Get down—no DOWN. In here, in the dugout.
What do you mean “what is it?” Yeees, of course it’s a gun. We call her Annie. Germans fire her at us most days, and you just hope you don’t wind up in her path. Trust me, if you stay on Anzio much longer, you’ll know her real well.
You know what? Once we break out of here, I’m going back through that door, and I’m gonna punch that Carnie in the nose. Discount worlds are safer my…
Oh…Well, yeah. I’ll probably end up buying this one. After all, I’ve put the time in here, and I’d hate to leave it just sitting there…forgotten, after everything that’s happened…
Ok. Maybe I won’t punch him. But let me tell you, he’s paying for my nicotine patches.
You can read Anne over at her blog, The Naptime Author. And you should, if you know what’s good for you.
5 thoughts on “One Earth: Slightly Used”
Great story! Original idea and great last line.
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Thanks so much! 🙂
Well done, oh lovely Anne! I love the flavor of the character sprinkled in the language. I gots me a real feel for this fella. 😉 AWESOME! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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Ha, thanks Jean 🙂
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